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  • saltando: bouncing the bow as in a staccato arpeggio, literally means "jumping"
  • sanft (Ger): gently
  • scatenato: unchained, wildly[5]
  • scherzando, scherzoso: playfully
  • scherzo: a light, "joking" or playful musical form, originally and usually in fast triple metre, often replacing the minuet in the later Classical period and the Romantic period, in symphonies, sonatas, string quartets and the like; in the 19th century some scherzi were independent movements for piano, etc.
  • schleppen (Ger): to drag; usually nicht schleppen ("don't drag"), paired with nicht eilen("don't hurry") in Gustav Mahler's scores
  • schnell (Ger): fast
  • schneller (Ger): faster
  • schwungvoll (Ger): lively, swinging, bold, spirited
  • scordatura: out of tune; i.e., an alternative tuning used for the strings of a string instrument
  • secco, or sec (Fr): dry
  • segno: sign, usually Dal Segno (see above) "from the sign", indicating a return to the point marked by Segno
  • segue: carry on to the next section without a pause
  • sehr (Ger): very
  • semitone: the smallest pitch difference between notes (in most Western music) (e.g., FF#)
  • semplice: simply
  • sempre: always
  • senza: without
  • senza misura: without measure
  • senza sordina, or senza sordine (plural): without the mute; compare con sordina in this list; see also Sordino. Note: sordina, with plural sordine, is strictly correct Italian, but the forms con sordino and con sordini are much more commonly used as terms in music. In piano music (notably in Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata), senza sordini or senza sordina (or some variant) is sometimes used to mean keep the sustain pedal depressed, since the sustain pedal lifts the dampers off the strings, with the effect that all notes are sustained indefinitely.
  • serioso: seriously
  • sforzando or sfz: made loud; i.e., a sudden strong accent
  • shake: a jazz term describing a trill between one note and its minor third; or, with brass instruments, between a note and its next overblown harmonic.
  • sharp: a symbol () that raises the pitch of the note by a semitone. The term may also be used as an adjective to describe a situation where a singer or musician is performing a note in which the intonation is an eighth or a quarter of a semitone too high in pitch.
  • short accent: Hit the note hard and short . (^)
  • si (Fr): seventh note of the series ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la, si, in fixed-doh solmization.
  • siciliana: a Sicilian dance in 12/8 or 6/8 meter[6]
  • sign: see segno
  • silenzio: silence; i.e., without reverberations
  • simile: similarly; i.e., continue applying the preceding directive, whatever it was, to the following passage
  • sipario: curtain (stage)
  • slargando or slentando: becoming broader or slower (that is, becoming more largo or more lento)
  • smorzando or smorz.: extinguishing or dampening; usually interpreted as a drop in dynamics, and very often in tempo as well
  • soave: smoothly, gently
  • sopra: above
  • sognando: dreamily
  • solo break: a jazz term that instructs a lead player or rhythm section member to play an improvised solo cadenza for one or two measures (sometimes abbreviated as "break"), without any accompaniment. The solo part is often played in a rhythmically free manner, until the player performs a pickup or lead-in line, at which time the band recommences playing in the original tempo.
  • solenne: solemn
  • solo, plural soli: alone; i.e., executed by a single instrument or voice. The instruction solirequires more than one player or singer; in a jazz big band this refers to an entire section playing in harmony.
  • sonata: a piece played as opposed to sung.
  • sonatina: a little sonata
  • sonatine: a little sonata, used in some countries instead of sonatina
  • sonore: sonorous
  • soprano: the highest of the standard four voice ranges (bass, tenor, alto, soprano)
  • sordina, sordine (plural): a mute, or a damper in the case of the piano. Note: sordina, with plural sordine, is strictly correct Italian, but the forms sordino and sordini are much more commonly used as terms in music. See also con sordina, senza sordina, in this list.
  • sordino: see sordina, above
  • sospirando: sighing
  • sostenuto: sustained, lengthened
  • sotto voce: in an undertone i.e. quietly
  • spiccato: distinct, separated; i.e., a way of playing the violin and other bowed instruments by bouncing the bow on the string, giving a characteristic staccato effect
  • spinto
  • spiritoso: spiritedly
  • staccato: making each note brief and detached; the opposite of legato. In musical notation, a small dot under or over the head of the note indicates that it is to be articulated as staccato.
  • stanza: a verse of a song
  • stornello originally truly 'improvised' now taken as 'appearing to be improvised,' an Italian 'folk' song, the style of which used for example by Puccini in certain of his operas.
  • strepitoso: noisy
  • stretto: tight, narrow; i.e., faster or hastening ahead; also, a passage in a fugue in which the contrapuntal texture is denser, with close overlapping entries of the subject in different voices; by extension, similar closely imitative passages in other compositions
  • stringendo: tightening, narrowing; i.e., with a pressing forward or acceleration of the tempo (that is, becoming stretto, see preceding entry)
  • subito: suddenly (e.g., subito pp, which instructs the player to suddenly drop topianissimo as an effect)
  • sul E: "on E", indicating a passage is to be played on the E string of a violin. Also seen:sul A, sul D, sul G, sul C, indicating a passage to be played on one of the other strings of a string instrument.
  • sul ponticello: on the bridge; i.e., in string playing, an indication to bow (or sometimes topluck) very near to the bridge, producing a characteristic glassy sound, which emphasizes the higher harmonics at the expense of the fundamental; the opposite of sul tasto
  • sul tasto: on the fingerboard; i.e., in string playing, an indication to bow (or sometimes topluck) over the fingerboard; the opposite of sul ponticello. Playing over the fingerboard produces a warmer, gentler tone.
  • sur la touche (Fr): sul tasto
  • syncopation: a disturbance or interruption of the regular flow of downbeat rhythm with emphasis on the sub-division or up-beat, e.g. in Ragtime music.
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